Portland Pirates Coach Kevin Dineen is unsure when his three top scorers will return from their emergency recall to the NHL-parent Buffalo Sabres.

Forwards Mark Mancari, Tyler Ennis and Nathan Gerbe all skated regular shifts during the Sabres’ 3-2 win Monday night against the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden.

“I have no idea when they’re coming back,” Dineen said. “(Buffalo is) not sure of their injury situation. It could be a couple of weeks. It could be the rest of the season.”

The high-scoring trio was called up last weekend following injuries to Buffalo forwards Patrick Kaleta, Tim Connolly and Thomas Vanek.

Kaleta will be out a minimum of two weeks following surgery on a thumb, Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier announced Monday night.

Dineen doubts any of the young forwards will be back with the Pirates for this weekend’s games.

“They will just stay (with Buffalo) and play, and we’ll go from there,” he said. “We’ll have to move forward without them.”

In their absence, Dineen intends to recall center Matt Caruana from the ECHL’s Gwinnett Gladiators. In two earlier call-ups this season, Caruana, a Niagara University graduate, has three goals and nine assists in 36 games.

“There are different players coming out of college, and you can start looking around,” Dineen said. “But Matt has done such a good job for us that I don’t see us looking elsewhere.”

Regier, who was at the Cumberland County Civic Center to watch the Pirates beat Hartford 3-2 on Sunday, said the Sabres were negotiating with Luke Adam, a 6-foot-2, 203-pound center selected in the second round of the 2008 entry draft by Buffalo. The 19-year-old Adam just finished his fourth junior season, his first with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.

“He’s not signed, so it might take a little bit (longer) with him,” Dineen said.

With two weeks left in the regular season, both the Sabres and the Pirates have qualified for league playoffs.

During his visit, Regier lauded Dineen and assistant coaches Eric Weinrich and Kevin Collins on the job they’re doing preparing players for the Sabres.

“We see it when they come up to us,” Regier said. “When the players come up, they perform very well.”

Regier said Dineen, who played 19 NHL seasons and is in his fifth season as coach of the Pirates, has the final say on which players are called up by the Sabres.

“I’ll give Kevin some parameters on what we’re looking for, and he’ll say this guy or that guy can do that,” Regier said. “The players need to know that he’s the one recommending them because they’ve got to play for him.”

Dineen said it was different during his first three seasons as head coach of the Pirates, when the team was affiliated with Anaheim Ducks.

“We had very strong scouting coverage with Anaheim, so they would form their own opinions about players,” he said. “They would always ask my opinion on it, but they would have the final say.”

The Buffalo organization just does it differently, Dineen said.

“We’ve got some (scouting) coverage,” he said. “They get all the games on the Internet. They get our coaches’ feedback. We send them a (video) clip of (each) game, about a 10-minute clip of chances for and against, that kind of thing.

“They have a lot of information, plus the amount (of games) they see themselves, but at the end of the day, (Regier) asks me and has given me a lot of chances to give him feedback.”

Dineen traveled to Boston Monday night to watch Mancari, Ennis and Gerbe play against the Bruins.

“I took the Downeaster (train) down there and sat in the press box,” he said. “I got to see the kids in action.

“They played well. It was a win. It was just an all-around great atmosphere.”


Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: [email protected]


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